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The Official Language Movement Kimberly Miller ETH125 February 22, 2009 Instructor: Dr. Regina Pacheco
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE MOVEMENT Racial and Ethnic Groups. Schaefer (2006) states that “until the last 20 or 30 years there was a conscious effort to devalue the Spanish language and to discourage Hispanics from using it in schools (p. 242). In the 1960s, the school boards in the Southwest, Florida, and New York City enforced a “No Spanish” rule and up until 1968 it was illegal to teach in any language other than English in California. English as a second language (ESL) programs tend to emphasize bilingual but not bicultural education (Schaefer, 2006). Some Hispanics strongly oppose bilingualism, believing that English-only education, even for very young children, is the key to success (S. Freedman 2004; H. Mason 2003). The growth of the Hispanic population has moved Congress towards recognizing the multilingual culture of the United States. Federal law has mandated that bilingual ballots be provided where necessary.
Destination Casa Blanca, The Latino Voice in Politics. One of the main reasons that many immigrants come to the United States is to provide their children an education that they would not have received in their country or origin (Destination Casa Blanca, 2009). Children who struggle with language barriers would benefit from bilingual and early education programs to detect in what areas students are in need of help as they start their learning development.
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE MOVEMENT Yet others state that many immigrants and other students have achieved their goals without such programs and they would therefore be a waste of tax money and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
The Bilingual Education Debate: Part I Bilingual education sparks controversy and heated academic and political battles rage over how best to reach the mastery of English and of content in academic areas goals, yet still preserve the students’ original language in the process (Cromwell, 1998). Congress passed the Bilingual Education Act in 1968 to provide the growing number of linguistically diverse students who were not getting an education equal to that of their Englishproficient peers. The U.S. Department of Education states that “all children are capable of engaging in complex thinking tasks and that developing and maintaining the student’s native language actually enhances the acquisition of a second language.”
The Bilingual Education Debate: Part II The ultimate goal of any approach is for students to become proficient in the English language (Cromwell, 1998). According to a 1987 study commissioned by the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), children in “properly designed” bilingual education programs learn English quickly and meet grade-level standards in English and mathematics in three to five years.
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE MOVEMENT
Yet the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) conducted a survey of 600 Hispanic parents of school-age children that showed 63 percent of them prefer their children be taught English as soon as possible, and 81.3 percent want their children taught academic subjects in English (Cromwell, 1998). The debate rages across the United States from state to state on what the ‘proper’ method of teaching should be for bilingual students. Reason and emotion play key roles in the debate between educators and parents. Some feel that additional research needs to be done while others feel that political debates over how children should be taught just hamper the very programs designed to meet the needs of these children.
Summary In summary, there is no doubt that this is a topic of great debate between educators and the parents of bilingual children. Many advances have been made in the past 30 years to provide bilingual programs and education with English as a second language or English immersion, in which students are taught primarily in English. Ultimately, however, it is this author’s opinion that the educators need to provide the programs that the majority of the population demands for their children. Educational guidelines need to be flexible and tailored to the cultural background of its students – not what the government deems “normal” for all United States citizens. The United States prides itself in its diversity and therefore needs to ensure that diversity is protected and not erased with blanket educational programs.
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE MOVEMENT References Schaefer, R.T. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Groups (10th Ed.). Published by Prentice-Hall. Copyright by Pearson Education, Inc. Destination Casa Blanca, The Latino Voice in Politics (2009, Oct. 23). Bilingual and early
education programs need to educate the public and improve themselves. Retrieved from: http://blog.hitn.org/blog/2009/10/23/educate-the-public/ Cromwell, S. (1998, Jan. 19). The Bilingual Education Debate: Part I. Education World. Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr047.shtml Cromwell, S. (1998, Jan. 26). The Bilingual Education Debate: Part II. Education World. Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr049.shtml